The Fujifilm X10 is the company's first entry into what is becoming an increasingly crowded enthusiast compact camera segment. The proliferation of smartphone camera use - coming at the expense of traditional compact camera sales - sees manufacturers showing a welcome interest in catering to the needs of enthusiasts. These users often desire a second 'carry-anywhere' camera but still value direct access to photographic controls and demand image quality significantly higher than that of entry-level point and shoot models. As such, the selection of high-end compact cameras like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX5 and Olympus XZ-1 has grown to include large-sensor fixed lens models like the Canon PowerShot G1 X and most recently, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100.
The X10 is Fujifilm's attempt to entice advanced shooters willing to pay a premium for higher image quality and specs in a very small, if not pocketable package. Its retro design aesthetic bears the DNA of the company's X100 and X-Pro1 models with a magnesium alloy body, sleek rangefinder-inspired design and a wealth of external dials and buttons.
The X10's innards are as progressive as its exterior is nostalgic. It features a 12MP, '2/3" type' sensor, which is twice as large as those used in almost all traditional compacts and between 26% and 40% larger than the sensors used by some of its enthusiast compact peers. Indeed the X10's sensor can only be considered small next to the impressively sized sensors in the more expensive Canon G1 X and Sony RX100. The Fujifilm X10 also uses the company's unique 'EXR' technology that makes it easy to combine pairs of pixels to produce 6MP images that have either been averaged to reduce noise, or differently-exposed so that more highlight information is captured. The underlying chip uses a conventional CMOS arrangement, rather than the back-side illuminated type that can help improve light capture in small sensors.
Despite its relatively large sensor, Fujifilm manages to find room for an image-stabilized, retracting 28-112mm equivalent F2.0-2.8 lens. In a very welcome move it also features a 'proper' mechanical zoom ring. The large aperture lens offers two main advantages; it allows the use of lower ISOs in low light for better image quality, and can deliver blurred backgrounds when shooting portraits at the telephoto end. Indeed in this respect it can match or surpass most SLRs when used with their kit zooms.
The fast readout from the CMOS sensor allows the camera to shoot at up to 7 frames-per-second at full resolution, and 10fps at 6MP. It also enables 1080p30 movie shooting and the creation of panoramas in a single sweep of the camera.
As you'd expect from a camera in this class, the X10 can capture Raw format images, and just like its higher-end siblings the X100 and X-Pro1 the X10 allows you to re-process them in-camera. Combine this feature with the X10's film simulation modes and color-filtered monochrome modes and you have a wide range of options for quick and easy post-capture enhancement of your photos without the need to turn on your computer.
Fujifilm X10 specification highlights
- 12MP 2/3" EXR CMOS sensor
- 28-112mm equivalent F2.0-2.8 lens
- Optical viewfinder (85% coverage)
- 2.8", 460,000 dot LCD
- Extensive manual control
- Raw shooting and in-camera Raw conversion
- Continuous shooting up to 7fps at full resolution (10fps at 6MP)
The Fujifilm X10 essentially brings together the best features of many of its rivals - a bright, reasonably versatile zoom and a high quality glass viewfinder. Add to this its relatively large EXR sensor and enthusiast-friendly manual control and customization options, and it's a very compelling little camera.
|The Olympus XZ-1 has the brightest zoom of any current compact camera, but this is offset by the X10's larger sensor. As you can see, the X10 is not much larger in size despite including an optical viewfinder.|
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 and Canon PowerShot G1 X
The Fujifilm X10 offers a 2/3" sensor that is surpassed only by two cameras in its class, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 and the physically larger and significantly more expensive Canon PowerShot G1 X.
If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).
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